Living with ADHD as a teenager

ADHD Teenager Struggles I Should Have Known

I regret that I did not seek the ADHD diagnosis and then not deal with my issues in my early years with a firm head. However, I cannot blame myself for not taking action because I was in the dark then. There isn’t much information on the neurodivergent disorder known as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity disorder. Additionally, people often criticise you when they learn that you’re different. In a sense, I was scared of being diagnosed as I wouldn’t say I liked being considered a victim. So I absorbed every emotion, believing there was something wrong with me, and endured each hardship until I couldn’t take them anymore.

The diagnosis I received was Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) late. In my late 20s, I got to speak to an expert in mental health about my struggles. To my delight (and maybe, even joy) I was given a diagnosis that was unexpected of this disorder, known as ADHD. I was the only one to receive the diagnosis I was given. At that point, I felt relieved. The issues I was experiencing weren’t in my mind. They weren’t even my responsibility. I was suffering from ADHD from the beginning. I would have liked to have confronted it before!

In my early years as a new adult who had undiagnosed ADHD, many things were happening in my body and brain. It is different for children who suffer from the condition. Apart from transitioning from being a child to an adult in the midst of having to be prepared for obligations as well, being a teenager, ADHD signs (which I had no idea existed before) added a new amount of stress to my daily battles. It was a rollercoaster of emotions then, and I hoped I could recognize that the issue was not solely my fault.

Alice is a clueless teen with ADHD symptoms.

Most people talk about ADHD as an affliction of the brain seen in younger children. If you bring up the subject of ADHD, people may connect it to children. However, remember that ADHD is a problem for adults and adolescents. It is essential to know that teens already have plenty on their plates; therefore, helping their needs should be a top priority. Imagine enduring many ADHD problems on top of the typical issues for teenagers!

When I stepped out of the mental health professional’s office, I saw a series of scenes flashing in my newly-recognized “ADHD brain.” Moments in which I realised I stood a considerable chance to improve my academic achievements; however, I was stifled due to my inability to concentrate. I can now understand why I’ve got a lot of extracurricular pursuits I’ve always wanted to explore but soon lost enthusiasm as soon as I realised the slightest thing required or encountered some inconvenience during the course.

There were plenty of things I wanted my opinion to be heard about coping with ADHD symptoms during my teens. Following an official ADHD diagnosis, I can say that certain risks and traits may be affected due to the various physical and psychological changes becoming a teen. As children grow older and mature, some of the signs and ADHD characteristics might not be the norm. However, there are occasions when they may hinder your progress. For this reason, children with ADHD need help, just as I did as a child.

Official diagnosis for teens with ADHD

Before anything else, be aware that all people, regardless of age, undergo the same procedure to determine if they have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Health professionals in the mental health field will apply the guidelines they know from the American Psychiatric Association established to determine the correct diagnosis: The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders.

Also, regardless of age, you’ll be screened for the signs identified in the DSM-5. Here are a few criteria to be taken into consideration when determining the determination of an ADHD diagnosis in the teenage range:

Six or more signs of Inattentive ADHD before you reach the age of 16, and 5 or more by 17 and above.

Six or more Hyperactivity/Impulsivity ADHD traits; 5 or more at 17 and up.

If a teenager exhibits sufficient symptoms for each type, they could be classified under the Combined ADHD type.

The struggles will affect at least two or more places (home, school, work, or social abilities).

The symptoms are expected to have started before age 12.

There is a clear indication of significant struggles in at most one of the major areas in the world (social contexts or academic expectations, work performance)

Suppose you’re feeling lost in your challenges, like when I first started. In that case, talking with relatives, particularly your parents, is recommended to ensure you receive the correct diagnosis and treatment. This will allow you to understand your situation better and help simplify things for you, particularly regarding academic performance and other issues in your daily life. It will give you the proper direction to treat ADHD for teens, including behavioural therapy, medications, or both.

Living in Chaos as an Unorganised ADHD Teen

Are you wondering why people with ADHD have trouble organising their ideas or even things? Many teenagers with ADHD are overwhelmed with school supplies, old clothes, and personal items cluttering up. While some teens appear elegant and posh or are considered young adults with their lives in order, ADHD teens often have an impaired executive function that allows them to organise, plan, and accomplish tasks.

It’s easy to miss deadlines or be unable to complete a project in time due to your inability to keep your thoughts in order. Organising the home was one of my most hated tasks in my younger years. I lived in a place that was a mess of things. I was not motivated or desired to tidy up and often was ridiculed by my parents for all of it.

My parents have told me I was lazy or sometimes wondered if I would attain the maturity and mental strength to admit to everything I do. I constantly hear comments about the “lack of willingness” to perform everyday tasks. In my experience, I’ve always felt there was something that made me not motivated to complete these tasks; however, back then, I was unaware that it was an ADH Disorder.

School is Boring and Seems Uninteresting

An ADHD child, like every curious child, grows to be a child with many questions in their head. I often wonder why we must search for x in mathematical equations or explore the background of how World War started. One reason could be that, as a child suffering from ADHD, I knew these subjects were lengthy. Due to my lack of concentration, I am easily distracted when dull topics are presented, resulting in my ability to study at a low point during these periods.

But, when I went to a school with subjects that intrigued me, I was more enthusiastic and eager to participate in the class. If I had school for these fascinating classes, I would wake up earlier than usual, be excited to go to school, and have no problems attending these classes, even if they only lasted a few hours. However, I’m expected to behave differently when the lesson is on maths and history.

Research has shown that ADHD influences the brain’s production of the dopamine hormone, a happy one that helps us “feel good”. But when we’re engaged in uninteresting classes or activities, it becomes challenging to make these neurotransmitters, making it difficult to focus on them.

When Most Teens are Curious, I was Reckless

One of the aspects that grew more prominent as I entered my teens was my impulsivity and hyperactivity. The underlying symptoms of the disorder were amplified when coupled with puberty and a lack of self-control. I was susceptible to numerous errors that were not considered a mistake, entered an era of adventure and spontaneous activities, and was constantly subjected to peer pressure. In this period that I lived through, it was greatest when I made decisions in a hurry, without thinking about the consequences that could occur after.

Risky behaviour is typical for teens with ADHD, particularly when they face peer pressure. There is a belief that as you grow older, you are more likely to experience an impulsive moment. If you have ADHD and a history of anxiety, it could increase your vulnerability to more issues, including academic inadequacy, use of drugs and other drugs, uninvolved sexual activities, and the risk of being involved in incidents.

Peer rejection is sometimes a cause for this as we think that to fit in, we must do what others of the same age are doing. We play with things that seem normal to other people. When I discussed this with a psychologist who was a clinical psychologist following the ADHD diagnosis, she told me it’s essential to have a robust support system in our teenage period, whether that’s our parents, friends, or teachers. They can serve as the primary care environment and assist us in navigating this phase by being more patient and understanding with us.

The emotional stability of teens with ADHD

Researchers conducted a study about regulating emotions in people who have Attention Deficit Disorder. The study findings showed that we’re more likely to experience sadness, happiness, and anger. We also feel the emotions more intensely than those who do not have ADHD. The positive side is that interventions for emotional regulation could aid.

Now I realise why I experienced frequent mood swings throughout my teenage days. I feel rejected whenever they don’t accompany me on trips or if my suggestions are not considered.

I frequently thought that my relationships with other people were at risk due to how I handled my emotions and reacted to situations. It could be among the main reasons it was difficult to establish and keep friends when I was a teenager with ADHD.

Then, I began feeling different. My social skills were often checked, and I needed to hide my symptoms. This was my method to deal with ADHD as a condition that wasn’t that significant. I got to the point where, due to my low self-esteem, I decided not to leave the house at all and instead spend the remainder of the day in my bedroom. I stayed in my room most of the time in solitude, juggling all the things happening to me.

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